the conscious decision to let go of resentment toward a person or group that you believe has harmed you.
Forgiveness as a practice is about letting-go. The Greater Good Science Center defines forgiveness as “the conscious, intentional decision to let go of strong negative feelings toward a person or group who you feel has harmed you in some way, regardless of whether or not their actions actually deserve your forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness is, in particular, the capacity to let go, to release the suffering, the sorrows, the burdens of the pains and betrayals of the past, and instead to choose the mystery of love. Forgiveness shifts us from the small separate sense of ourselves to a capacity to renew, to let go, to live in love. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “If you want to see the brave, look to those who can return love for hatred. If you want to see the heroic, look to those who can forgive.” Jack Kornfield
Forgiveness is a complex practice that often requires time to unfold. The good news is that with practice we can all learn to forgive.
- According to the research forgiveness makes us happier (and happier people are more likely to forgive)
- Studies show that forgiveness can improve our health by decreasing our blood pressure, heart rate and other markers of stress and supporting healthy immune function.
- Practicing forgiveness helps us to maintain strong social structures by repairing relationships in times of difficulty and strengthening them in the process.
- Forgiveness creates stronger, more satisfying relationships.
- Forgiveness increases our capacity for kindness and leaves us feeling more connected.
- Forgiveness can help us to feel less depressed and more optimistic about life.
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~ Marianne Williamson
It is often said that forgiveness is not for the offender but instead for the one offended. Including forgiveness in your life as a practice is about learning how to sit with difficult feelings and experience the depth and weight of these feelings without lashing out or blaming. It is about feeling deeply and understanding your pain and suffering without creating more pain and suffering – for yourself and for the world. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself and your loved ones. Practicing forgiveness allows you to generate a resilient spirit and move more freely in life in the direction of what matters most. Forgiveness is a choice so choose YOU and incorporate a practice of forgiveness in your life.
How To Start Practicing
Practice Mindfulness – At the moment you feel upset, practice stress management to soothe your body’s fight or flight response.
Broaden Your Perspective – Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts, and physical upset you are suffering now, not from what offended you or hurt you two minutes—or 10 years— ago.
Seek Peace – Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling with the person who upset you or condoning the action. In forgiveness you seek the peace and understanding that come from blaming people less after they offend you and taking those offenses less personally.
Practice Self-Care – Make a commitment to yourself to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and no one else.
Check Your Expectations – Give up expecting things from your life or from other people that they do not choose to give you. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity, and work hard to get them. However, these are “unenforceable rules:” You will suffer when you demand that these things occur, since you do not have the power to make them happen.